Shattering the Myths of Drugs and Alcohol with National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Institute on Drug Abuse for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

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I have always been a big fan of what my husband calls “kiddie bopper shows” –or in other words teen drama. I love Vampire Diaries, Reign, Gilmore Girls, iZombie, the 100, basically most shows you can find on the CW. I have always been a fan of zombies, vampires, witches, and anything supernatural. With that said, these are not the shows I was watching as a teenager and when I swap my way of thinking as a parent I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my children watching them as teenagers either. A big reason why I would not feel comfortable with them watching these shows is because of how alcohol and even drugs are glamorized and seen as cool. I wouldn’t say this is the case for every show I just named, but more often than not our teenagers are the targets for alcohol and drug companies and this makes me really sad as a parent.
National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week gives teens and parents the information and tools they need to educate themselves about drug/alcohol use with teens today and what can be done to help dispel those myths about different types of drugs, how they affect your brain, and the long term effects. With a teen’s brain still in development the effects of drugs and alcohol are even more overwhelming and long lasting. But you don’t hear about that when they shoot a party scene for a TV show or movie.
I took the National Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge and missed 4 of the 12 questions. There were a few things that really surprised me. Only 1 in 10 teenagers are drinking. I guessed more and was pleasantly surprised that this was the case. I was surprised to see that besides smoking cigarettes the next favorite among teenagers is hookah and cigars.
A new drug that is gaining popularity among teenagers is Molly (MDMA or ecstasy) that is being used as early as the 8th grade.
What teenagers may not realize is you can die from MDMA use. MDMA can cause problems with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, particularly when it is used in active, hot settings (like dance parties or concerts). On rare occasions, this can lead to a sharp rise in body temperature (known as hyperthermia), which can cause liver, kidney, or heart failure or even death.
From the NIDA website: “Our brains are wired to make sure we will repeat healthy activities, like eating, by connecting those activities with feeling good. Whenever this reward circuit is kick-started, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Because drugs of abuse come in and “hijack” the same circuit, people learn to use drugs in the same way. After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. Neurons may begin to reduce the number of dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brain—like turning down the volume on the dopamine signal. Because some drugs are toxic, some neurons also may die. As a result, the ability to feel any pleasure is reduced. The person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed, and is unable to enjoy things that once brought pleasure. Now the person needs drugs just to bring dopamine levels up to normal, and more of the drug is needed to create a dopamine flood, or “high”—an effect known as “tolerance.”

What would your score be? Take the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge

National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW) is an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to SHATTER THE MYTHS about substance use and addiction. The observance will be held January 25-31, 2016, and is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health. The week-long observance was launched in 2010 to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens often hear from the Internet, TV, movies, music, or friends. Since its inception, the number of community-based events held to SHATTER THE MYTHS has grown dramatically, with more than 1,500 held last January throughout all 50 states and several international sites. Events link teens with scientists and other experts, creating a safe place for teens to ask questions about drug and alcohol use, without judgment or lectures.

You can find helpful lesson plans, drug and alcohol facts, videos, and quizzes to help your child understand the effects of drugs through this wonderful website. If you, your child, or a friend are in crisis and need to speak with someone now, please call:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don’t just talk about suicide—they cover a lot of issues and will help put you in touch with someone close by).

If you need information on treatment and where you can find it, you can call:

Take the IQ Challenge!

For more information on how to help a friend or loved one, visit NIDA’s Have a Drug Problem, Need Help? page. The most empowering thing about all of this is that we as parents can change the statistics by being involved, answering questions, and being willing to talk to our teenagers about these drugs and their effects. Our teens need us talking to them about the reality of the destroying effects of drugs and alcohol because we know that that is not what the world is teaching them through media.camille walker, mymommystyle.com

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